Kristin Hunt

Kristin Hunt
School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
2020-21 Outstanding Instructional Faculty Mentor

Bio

Dr. Kristin Hunt (Associate Professor, School of Music, Dance and Theatre) is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist working in the fields of theater, performance studies, and drama-based pedagogy. She investigates relationships between representation, embodiment, and knowledge as revealed in acts of making, witnessing, and learning through performance. Her intertwined research and creative practice crosses multiple performance domains including theatre, performance art, and the classroom. Books include Alimentary Performances: Mimesis, Theatricality, and Cuisine (Routledge 2018) and Drama and Education: Performance Methodologies for Teaching and Learning (Routledge 2015, co-authored with Mary McAvoy and Manon van de Water). Her articles have appeared in Performance Research, Theatre Topics, and Youth Theatre Journal, among others. She also works as a director, scenographer, and food designer focusing on ancient and classic works of global drama in activist and radical adaptations.

Mentoring statement

My mentorship is founded in relational pedagogy, which also informs my teaching philosophy and collaborative art practice. By nurturing student-to-student mentorship networks and developing feedback practices tailored to each student during our early work together, I help students build an overall professional web that will support them through coursework, longer writing and creative projects, and their early career development. Thus my mentorship begins with my first contact with a student and typically extends over a decade or more, or as long as they wish to continue relating to me as a mentor before transitioning to a more fully collegial relationship. 

I prioritize project-based and relational learning strategies in my teaching, as well as in my research on teaching and learning. These pedagogical emphases manifest in several ways in my classes, but center on two main features. First, I emphasize active, iterative processes in which students design and execute projects that immediately apply knowledge and skills in practice. During each project I provide individual mentorship and frequent feedback to ensure each student is able to develop work that satisfies their intellectual and creative agendas. Second, I prioritize creation of a classroom community in which students hone their intellectual, aesthetic, and collaborative skills by giving one another frequent and highly differentiated feedback on their work throughout the semester. Alongside this community of peer mentors, I develop individual relationships with students through individual meetings in the early weeks of class. These meetings enable students to share feedback preferences and set priorities collaboratively with me, establishing our relationship as a partnership driven by their personal goals. For the remainder of the class, my feedback, delivered prior to our next meeting for all material, continually references these points of emphasis, helping the student stay connected to their larger goals and take initiative in shaping each classroom assignment to those goals. 

In addition to tailoring my mentorship style for each student and inviting students to see one another as mentors, I focus on developing students’ own mentorship abilities. My classes have been described as a conservatory environment in which each person is responsible and motivated to not only build new work but also to take an active role in helping their peers develop and polish new work. Each of these elements is crucial to student development as self-actualized, critically capable, intellectually and aesthetically rigorous artist-scholars poised to influence the development of their fields. 

These project-based and relational emphases go hand in hand in each course and contribute to the development of strong, lasting communities. These communities in turn nurture work that impacts the world outside the classroom, launch careers, and change discursive and aesthetic horizons for our field and beyond. This focus on what students can do and make with one another from the body of existing knowledges, practices, and problems of our field leads directly to new work that students can put out into the world with confidence.

Many mentees take their research beyond the classroom, a process I invite through the use of the “long-range” assignment with which I end each graduate class. A proposal for work to be completed after the class ends, the long-range project provides students an opportunity to extend our work beyond the confines of a semester. It also provides students a chance to commit to taking their work to larger audiences or to collaborating with peers on significant projects. Finally, I use my feedback to demonstrate commitment to the student’s project in tangible terms, reducing the psychological challenges that can keep some students from proactively reaching out to arrange for continued mentorship beyond the confines of the semester. 

Each mentorship relationship is inherently unique. Thus my method is simple in theory and nuanced in practice; over many years of our work together I continually listen, learn, and reflect upon the ways in which I can best support each student’s intellectual and creative agendas. This work is time-consuming and challenging, but it is also one of the greatest pleasures of being an educator. We all love seeing students push beyond their initial expectations, surprise themselves, and create new work that changes the world, but those of us lucky enough to have the time, privilege, and space to develop long-term mentorship practices have the added experience of watching students grow into colleagues. This process continually infuses my work with joy; it is its own reward.